WOLF WHISTLE #VW-Lupo
The word ‘Lupo’ is Latin for ‘wolf’ and this particular example is certainly wild in both its appearance and actions. Words: Louise Woodhams Photos: Matt Woods.
“I think the most fun moment I’ve had in this Lupo was upsetting a Ferrari F430 driver who thought he could get away. It’s hardly stock-looking in Porsche GT3 green and with a stripped and caged interior, but people are still shocked to hear it has 393bhp, and that’s before the use of the nitrous oxide,” explains Jamie Jackson with a wry grin on his face.
That wasn’t a misprint by the way; the GTI Lupo’s 1.6-litre engine in standard guise pushes out 125bhp, which means Jamie has managed to triple its power output. If we take the manufacturer’s quoted kerb weight figure of 960kg, this Lupo has an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 409hp per ton. The nearest comparison to that is a Ferrari F50. Interestingly the owner of that aforementioned Fezza has 342hp per tonne at his disposal, and no doubt spent five times as much as Jamie.
So, whilst the haters are going to hate (supercar owners and the purists who object to the outlandish colour scheme and Mk4 Golf 1.8T engine), they can’t deny it’s one crazy machine. In terms of nutty Lupos, we’ve only featured a few: Richard Baron’s (of Venom Motorsport fame) lime green project with the same conversion in the June 2004 issue, followed by a bright red one with an Edition 30 2.0-litre TFSI engine exactly ten years later. So modified Lupos of this calibre aren’t exactly common. But what made Jamie go for VW’s baby? “I saw this Lupo GTI on an online salvage auction going really cheap it was just too good to turn down,” explains Jamie. “I fancied something different and at that time there weren’t many Lupos with the 1.8T engine. It just made sense to make something with a bit of wow factor,” he continued. The Lupo GTI has often been labelled by press as the true successor to the first generation Golf – one of the first true hot hatches, so it’s easy to see why Jamie fell for it.
The 2003 silver car, with just 38k on the clock, was bought from Doncaster Motor Spares (now Motorhog) back in 2006 for just £2750. Having been involved in a front end smash, the first job was to get it repaired before Jamie could move onto the exterior styling. “Prior to seeing the GTI I’d already bought a 1.4 8v Lupo as a project car so I had some parts already stockpiled, such as the wide arches. They’re not something that appeals to most GTI owners but modifying is all about being different, right?” Damn right, Jamie.
In addition, the numberplate and handles were smoothed from the front bumper and door respectively to help it give it a much cleaner look together with an Mk5 Golf boot handle and Cambridge Edition tail-lights. The distinctive Porsche colour is perfect for this car, after all it’s got to have to the show to match the go. The gloss black lips and bronze centres of the 7.5x16” (front) and 9x16” (rear) Klutch SL1 alloy wheels provide the perfect contrast to the bright green. The respray was actually one of the last jobs to be carried out. It was previously white and apparently it got nowhere near as much attention as it does now.
Inside the colour theme continues with the Audi RS6-style seats retrimmed in green and black leather, together with the doorcards and the SW Motorsport roll-cage painted to match the bodywork. To complete the track-look stripped-out interior, the dash and trim panels have been professionally flocked in black and the standard steering wheel swapped out for an OMP item. Playing a functional part is a Gizzmo Electronic Boost Controller, along with Defi gauges to keep a check on what is happening under the bonnet.
Talking of which, the 1.8T engine conversion, which is often complimented for looking so factory, was completed in 2008, by which point Jamie was hankering for more than what the GTI could provide. It isn’t hard to make more power from the 1.8T even with a basic ECU remap, which in this case was performed by RS Tuning, but Jamie decided to go more advanced, stretching the engine’s displacement and beefing-up the lower end at the same time with forged Wossner pistons and stronger PEC Rods. To make the most of these mods, he upgraded to a larger Garrett GT2871 turbocharger and Nortech Tubular exhaust manifold. Bigger injectors and a three-inch exhaust system also help to increase power, together with a Nitrous Express front-mounted intercooler kit.
And how does something with that much power feel? “The first time I took the car on the road straight after the engine had been dropped in I knew once fully mapped it would be an absolute beast! It does feel a little front-end heavy compared to having the stock engine but the way it handles the power is great. The Quaife LSD definitely helps. I also felt a great sense of achievement!”
To withstand the higher RPM conditions ACL race bearings and Vibratec engine mounts have been employed, whilst transmission-wise the gear ratios have been modified to mirror that of a diesel in third, fourth and fifth, and the aforementioned much-needed differential fitted. With all of that extra power, the chassis needed attending to as well. To that end the brakes have been upgraded to #G60
calipers, EBC discs and pads, whilst the suspension has been swapped out for Spax coilovers with Powerflex bushes.
By selling the GTI engine and gearbox, together with parts from the donor Golf, 29-yearold Jamie has managed to stick to a fairly reasonable budget and as the owner of Performance Direct he was able to source all of the parts as well as carry out most of the modifications – bar the bodywork, flocking and retrim– himself. “It’s been a bit of an ongoing project but it’s finally near to the way I wanted it to be. The engine conversion is just awesome – it really puts a smile on my face when I upset the owners of really expensive cars!”
Of course, if he really wants to cause a few tears, he’s always got his 600bhp Mitsubishi Evo 6 to fall back on, but it’s the Lupo that puts a smile on Jamie’s face more. Everything about is this car is just so right; lightweight with a big screaming engine and polarising styling. It may be little but by heck it deserves a big spotlight.
Huge roll-cage, buckets, gauges, and OMP wheel give some insight in to what this little Lupo is capable of.
wastegate with external screamer pipe, Nortech tubular manifold, three-inch exhaust system, 560cc injectors, #Wössner
rods, nitrous express front mount intercooler kit, #ACL
race bearings, #K&N
Cone Filter, #Vibratec
engine mounts. #02J
five-speed box with diesel third, fourth and fifth gear ratios.
CHASSIS: 7.5x16” (front) and 9x16” (rear) #Klutch
SL1 alloy wheels shod in 195/40 and 215/40 Toyo T1R tyres respectively, #Spax
coilovers and #Powerflex
bushes, G60 calipers, EBC discs and pads.
EXTERIOR: Custom wide arches, smoothed front bumper and doors, Mk5 Golf boot handle, Cambridge Edition lights, resprayed in Porsche GT3 green.
INTERIOR: RS6-style seats and doorcards retrimmed in green and black leather, roll-cage painted in Porsche GT3 green, flocked dash and trim panels, Defi gauges (60mm up to 2bar of boost), Gizzmo boost controller.
SHOUT: All the guys who work for me at #Performance-Direct
especially Matt And Foxy , everyone who’s helped out over the years to put the car back together especially my dad, Andy, Streak, Dean, Mark and Richard at Unique Body and Paint, Paul and Andy at RS Tuning and Yorkshire Flocking.
AGU 1.8T boasts GT2871 blower, PEC rods, Wossner pistons and a Nortech manifold. The result? 393bhp, and that’s before the NOS is switched on!